November 25, 1998CPSC Releases Holiday Safety
Tips for Avoiding Fires and Injuries
Washington, DC (SafetyAlerts)
- As the holidays approach, the U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging people to look for and eliminate potential dangers from
holiday lights and decorations that could lead to fires and injuries.
Each year, hospital emergency rooms treat about
1,300 people for injuries related to holiday lights and 6,200 people for injuries related
to holiday decorations and Christmas trees. In addition, Christmas trees are involved in
about 400 fires annually, resulting in 10 deaths, 80 injuries and an average of more than
$15 million in property loss and damage each year.
CPSC Chairman Ann Brown said, "Decorating our homes for the holidays is a beautiful
tradition, and to ensure that this holiday season is a safe and happy one, CPSC is
releasing the following safety tips."
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the
label "Fire Resistant." Although this label does not mean the tree won't catch
fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
- When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A
fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your
fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and
when bounced on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
- When setting up a tree at home, place it away from
fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep
the stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block
- Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been
tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory.
- Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or
cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and discard damaged sets.
- Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights
per single extension cord.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The
tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a
branch could be electrocuted.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house
walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated
staples to hold strings in place, not nails or tacks. Or, run strings of lights through
hooks (available at hardware stores).
- Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the
house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
- For added electric shock protection, plug outdoor
electric lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit
interrupters (GFCIs). Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies
are sold. GFCIs can be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified
- Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant
materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded
metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
- Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other
evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be
- In homes with small children, take special care to
avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts
out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and
avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.
- Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while
decorating with spun glass "angel hair." Follow container directions carefully
to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.
- Use care with "fire salts," which produce
colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense
gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children.
- Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A
flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
Safety Alerts compiles
comprehensive safety recall information for the United States. SafeMail is a free email
service to warn consumers of faulty products and contaminated foods. For complete
information regarding current recalls, past recalls and timely product warning
notification visit: www.safetyalerts.com.